April 2009


By: Brian Sikma

As Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) works to move cap and trade legislation through his House Energy and Commerce Committee, he’s finding it a bit hard to sell the whole idea to members of Congress who come from districts that would be hit hard by carbon taxes. States with heavy industry or states that rely extensively on existing energy sources as part of their economy would be hardest hit with job losses, price increases, and taxes should the legislation pass.

In an effort to secure much needed support, Waxman has started talking to individual members about providing credits to various industries that are a big part of their local economies. While the cap and trade bill would apply across the board to many industries and businesses, specific exemptions for coal fired power plants, for example, would allow them to feel less pain from a new tax and regulatory structure.

What this kind of behind the scenes maneuvering seems to boil down to is green earmarking. If a member of Congress wishes to show his dedication to the folks back home he or she can do so by securing an earmark for this project or that project, a bridge, a dam, or some other public works initiative that would generate jobs and goodwill for the incumbent member. With the high economic costs of cap and trade standing tall against any future plans by businesses and industries to expand and grow, affected communities and businesses would benefit by exemptions and built in carbon credits that give them a pass from the otherwise broad regulations.

Green earmarking will allow members of Congress to appear to be concerned about the environment and be on the politically correct side of the climate change discussion while at the same time giving them a tool to make sure that nothing they do is going to really harm their districts. If we thought that earmarks were a bad part of the process now, let’s imagine what they will be like when a new program designed to raise hundreds of billions of dollars becomes open to special amendment by individual members of Congress.

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By: Brian Sikma

President Obama and House and Senate Democrats have joined forces with the environmental lobby to promote a “cap and trade” plan for dealing with global climate change. Under a cap and trade plan the government would sell carbon credits to businesses and the money raised by those sales (where the customer has no other option to turn towards outside of simply closing up shop) goes towards carbon reducing programs and policies. Companies that cannot buy enough credits will-if they intend to keep up production-need to invest in expensive new technology designed to reduce carbon emissions.

The creation and implementation of these carbon reducing measures is not just about saving the environment but is, according to Democrats, about jobs. Indeed, this plan is about jobs. I will cost the American economy jobs, increase unemployment, and drive up the cost of products and services that Americans use every single day. With cap and trade, while the net amount of carbon emissions will decrease, so will the number of good American jobs. Without a specific tie between carbon emissions and global warming being scientifically proven and without a meaningful cost/benefit analysis showing that it is better to impose an entire new class of taxes than to allow the current situation to exist, cap and trade legislation is not a good idea.

The problem of cap and trade was addressed by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) earlier this week on the House floor. In the key line he declared “The Democrat plan actually caps growth and trades jobs. The truth is, this cap and trade legislation is essentially an economic declaration of war on the Midwest by liberals in Washington, D.C., and it must be opposed.”

See the video below for Rep. Pence’s entire remarks:

By: Brian Sikma

When traditional marriage supporters advocated for a state marriage amendment in 2008, Speaker Pat Bauer argued that such a constitutional amendment was unnecessary and redundant in light of Indiana’s existing state law.  Proponents of the amendment responded by saying that the same judicial reasoning that allowed courts in Massachusetts and elsewhere to challenge the constitutionality of marriage laws could be used by Indiana courts.  The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision to create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage and impose that new definition on the state proves the Speaker wrong, and marriage supporters right.

Unlike Massachusetts, a state known in recent decades for being highly “progressive” in both fiscal and social policy, Iowa is a mid-west state whose citizens have many of the same values that Hoosiers have.  One may have expected courts in states like California and Massachusetts to have activist judiciaries more than willing to redefine the definition of marriage.  But Iowa is not a state that would have been considered a prime candidate for this sort of judicial misrule.

Indiana legislators and policy makers should take close note of the Iowa decision and realize that what happened there could happen here.  Marriage is a fundamental institution in society and the state must act whenever necessary to protect its status and definition.  Without its presence as a bedrock unit in the makeup of society, our state cannot expect to move forward into a prosperous future.  The strength of our state, the well-being of our children, and the prosperity of our communities depend on our ability to protect marriage from those who would redefine it into something it has never been, and will never be able to successfully be.

Although this session of the General Assembly failed to act on a marriage amendment, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Bray (R) being responsible for his committee’s failure to hear the matter in the Senate, the Iowa ruling will hopefully spur legislative leaders to action next session.